The tragic killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department has shocked his family, community, and the nation.
The public and the ACLU of Missouri have called for release of the police incident report on the shooting to resolve the dispute about whether the incident involved the excessive use of lethal force and illegal racial profiling, and to shed light on how many times and where on his body Mr. Brown was shot.
The Ferguson Police Department’s actions appear misleading and remarkably cynical. They call into question the department’s commitment to ensuring an independent and impartial investigation into the killing of Michael Brown. The video and incident report released are of dubious relevance. The decision to disclose them suggests an attempt to assassinate Mr. Brown’s character by showing that he had roughly pushed a convenience store clerk on the day that he was killed. The one-sided and piecemeal disclosure of potentially irrelevant and prejudicial information, while continuing to withhold the critical police incident report that the public has demanded, suggests a desire to confuse rather than to shine a light on what happened.
The U.S. Justice Department plans a thorough investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department after a string of officer-involved shootings and a number of high-profile abuse cases alleging the use of excessive and deadly force.
Tuesday’s announcement, first reported by the Albuquerque Journal, comes months after the police department in New Mexico’s biggest city was the target of protests, lawsuits and demands for wide-scale agency overhaul from civil rights advocates amid 25 officer-involved shootings - 17 of them fatal - since 2010.
In addition, the Albuquerque Police Department has been plagued in recent months by a number of high-profile cases alleging excessive force by officers, including some cases caught on video.
One video showed officers giving each other celebratory “belly bumps” after beating a suspected car thief in a parking garage. Another clip showed an officer illegally entering an apartment and using a stun gun on one suspect, then punching another suspect after he had surrendered.
The department also was forced to change its social media policy involving officers after a detective shot and killed a man last year and listed his occupation as “human waste disposal” on his Facebook page. The detective was later suspended and transferred out of the department’s gang unit to field services.
This article doesn’t mention the Department’s Repeat Offender Project using a noose as its symbol for twenty years. Maybe because they quit doing it last June, when it became public. It also doesn’t mention that the police union was paying up to $500 to officers involved in fatal shootings. That ended in April.
I think they may have contributed to the Justice Department’s decision to launch a full-scale investigation.
Heartbreaking and terrifying…
The violence in Syria appears to be worsening, as Syrian troops renewed their attacks on protesters in the key opposition city of Homs and military defectors launched one of the largest attacks yet on government forces. And a new report provides evidence from defectors that Syrian forces are being ordered to use deadly force against unarmed civilian protesters.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based watchdog with a network of contacts in Syria, says that Syrian forces opened fire on protesters, killing one, after traditional Friday prayers today in the city of Homs, writes the Associated Press. The group says that 200,000 people took to the streets in Homs to protest the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. AP notes that it could not confirm the report, due to Syria’s ban on foreign journalists.
…Human Right Watch released a new report Thursday, “By All Means Necessary.” Based on interviews with Syrian military defectors, it detailed orders they were given to use deadly force and torture against Syrian unarmed protesters. HRW found that “military commanders and officials in the intelligence agencies gave both direct and standing orders to use lethal force against the protesters,” citing 20 specific instances in the report, and said senior Syrian officials, including President Assad, bear responsibility for the abuses committed by their subordinates.
HRW writes that all the defectors reported being under standing orders to ‘stop the protests at any cost’ and ‘by all means necessary,’ and often were explicitly ordered to use lethal force against protesters. A soldier recounted one such incident in which troops were told to shoot at protesters:
On August 27 we were near a police hospital in Harasta. About 1,500 protesters came there. They requested the release of an injured protester who was inside the hospital. They held olive branches. They had no arms. There were 35 army soldiers and about 50 mukhabarat [intelligence] personnel at the checkpoint. We also had a jeep with a mounted machine-gun. When the protesters were less than 100 meters away, we opened fire. We had previously received the orders to do so from [Brigadier General Talal Makhlouf]. Five protesters were hit, and I believe two of them died.